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By Victoria Corbett
February 21, 2011


A couple have won an apology from social workers after suffering an “awful” investigation over allegations from a school they say had been mistreating their son.


A mother and father, who have asked to remain anonymous, complained about the care their son was receiving at The Coombes Primary School only to have social services contact them over counter-allegations.


Wokingham Borough Council has since apologised and told the family there was an “insufficient” investigation into their claims about what had happened at The Coombes, which last year received an inadequate judgement from Ofsted over pupil health and safety issues.


An investigation into the treatment of the family by the council has reached stage three, which will see a panel investigate the family’s complaints.


Two investigations conducted internally and by an independent investigator have upheld or partially upheld most of the father’s nine key complaints. The report on the second stage investigation urges the council to pay compensation for time wasted and distress caused.


Following the conclusion of the latest investigation, the council apologised to the family and has offered some compensation for time wasted by social workers failing to meet appointments.


The family’s troubles began in January last year when they complained about the treatment their child, who is autistic, had allegedly been receiving at The Coombes.


The family says the boy was carried around by staff by his hands and feet and that he was repeatedly left alone in a store room without any work.


The father said: “I understand teachers may need to restrain a child if they present a risk of hurting themselves or others, however these incidents were never reported back to me.”


The father says the school failed to respond satisfactorily to his complaints and calls for an investigation, which led him to contact social services at Wokingham.


Investigators have since upheld the family’s complaint about social services and its lack of investigation into the Coombes School complaints.


His frustrations led him to withdraw the child from the school and the boy has since started attending a different school in the borough.


Following this, the Arborfield school reported the family over allegations about the boy’s home life, however an investigation by police and social workers ruled there were no child protection issues.


The father said: “To get a phone call saying your family is being investigated, that was very disturbing and unnerving. I didn’t sleep for three days.”


A social worker investigated the claims and wrote a report without a visit to the family home.


The father said: “We said this was a blatant attempt to distract from what was really going on.”


The second stage investigation found there were “major weaknesses” in social services and communication with the family, as well as criticising the core assessment report from the social worker, labelling it “biased and misleading”.


Wokingham council’s safeguarding team received an ‘inadequate’ judgement from Ofsted two years ago, however the department has since made progress with an improvement action plan, as has The Coombes School.


Read in Full:

http://www.getwokingham.co.uk/news/s/2087935_autistic_boy_carried_by_hands_and_feet_by_school_workers



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